Monthly Archives: December 2004

New Year’s Eve 2004

I may resolve to change my ways this year,
exchange old habits for ones I’ve not tried.
But there’s no point in much of that, I fear,
for one’s true nature cannot be denied.

Perhaps I’ll vow to focus more on things
that increment the positive aspects,
but who knows what the future’s bound to bring?
The lessons never come like you expect.

The truth is, all the seeds for next year’s fruit
would not be useful now unless the ground
for planting them had been already tilled.

My only hope is that the land will suit,
and that the right conditions will abound.
Should that occur, my barn’s already filled.

31 JAN 2004

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Artie Shaw

By the time I got to it,
the clarinet was odd;
a quaint small instrument for guys
who never got the girls
(even the ones who played
and sat in the same orchestra rows
day and day, year after year),
who shuffled in the back
behind the trumpets
and saxophones.

It wasn’t really a manly thing
at nine or ten years old
to play.
But that was after Artie
set it down, and Benny
stopped “Flying Home”.

Used to be the clarinet was king —
and guys who played it
led the bands that fellas killed
to get into. Not the “sweet” bands
(although even Miller’s band cashed in
on clarinet by chance, with
Moonlight Serenade, and Welk’s band
was the only place you’d see a closeup
on those nickel keys)
or the “money” bands, per se,
but the bands where you had to be
great to even get a note in.

To me, that was the reason why
I played that black and silver stick:
because of Artie Shaw
who even out swung Gene Krupa.

30 DEC 2004

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Feast During Famine

When Obiwan Kenobi felt the end of Alderaan
it was as if a hole appeared and swallowed, to a man,
the lifeforce of each precious soul existing ’til that time
and twisted, perhaps frayed, the cord of which we form a line

I wonder, when tsunamis hit, when earthquakes take their toll,
how many sense the devastation wrought, and still console
themselves that these are unknown folk of far and distance lands
and do not feel the spike that drives itself in others’ hands

In retrospect, we call it karma, God’s will, or bad luck;
but are we all so ignorant, fresh off the turnip truck,
that we must have some writing on the wall to comprehend
or find a mystic omen first, and then assist a friend?

The world is what the world is, whether nature’s realm, or God’s;
but sadly, we each feel so distant from it, and at odds
with every notion that connects us to each living thing,
and every song that all life forms but us have learned to sing.

The lost, the dead, the wounded? These poor souls have passed the test.
There but for the grace of some God, we think, we live and have been blessed;
but blessed not with just life, but opportunity to grow
and prove our faith in something is of substance, not just show.

How can we ease the suffering? How can we stop the pain?
How can we more control the world so it won’t hurt again?
A better question, one that might serve better those who grieve:
How long ’til each of us becomes what we say we believe?

30 DEC 2004

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Today’s Seed Thought

To accept one’s karma and the responsibility for one’s actions is strength.
To blame another is weakness and foolishness.
Let’s begin by not advertising our ignorance.
If you must blame what happens to you on your friend,
your neighbor, your country, your community or the world,
don’t advertise it by speaking about it.
Keep that ignorance to yourself.
Limit it to the realm of thought.
Harness your speech and at the same time
work to remold your thinking
and retrain your subconscious
to actually accept this basic premise.

— from Living with Siva by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

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Early Morning

There is something liberating about
waking up early. Not too
early, mind you. But earlier
than you need to be
awake; and if you’re lucky,
early enough to see the
last of the night disappear
in the whitewash of the
morning sun, and to hear
the birds when they first
rise and start practicing their
songs, like violinists warming up
outside the concert hall for
a performance later that afternoon.

It’s a sense of freedom,
definitely — and an opportunity to
feel the earth’s slow glow
as it stretches its muscles
and wipes the traces of
sleep from its opening eyes.

29 DEC 2004

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Too much of what the world has been,
and is, and still might be,
has as its limits what we call

We reign imagination in
and relegate its course
to doomsday visions, worst-case scenes,
and dissipate its force.

But the first step in making change
is picturing it grow;
if we cannot imagine it,
we cannot make it so.

When Lennon said, “Imagine”,
it was not just empty talk,
but an instruction to our souls to crawl,
then try to walk.

Imagine that your point of view
is not all that there is
(to living, love or existence)
and you will learn just this:

That brotherhood and peace and love
were with you all along;
and required only listening
to one another’s song.

28 DEC 2004

for John Lennon

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Ranting on Poetics

I will not write for other poets.

They exist to ridicule each other,
and failing that, to share inside jokes
on what words are or aren’t clich
on poems written in metered speech
on lines that rhyme, even if well done,
on absurd show instead of tell
(as if a poem could only exist for its own sake,
without serving a greater purpose
than entertaining a few self-important snobs;
perhaps, I offer to such critics,
if you don’t feel a connection with the work
you’re either in the wrong profession,
the piece was beyond your frame of reference,
or just maybe the poem wasn’t all about you).

And those who claim to teach, who write
in back rooms, sneaking off to slams on weekends,
lording it over a gathering of teen angst
and tossing their black pearls of wisdom:

How dare you offer as advice
“For God’s sake, nothing before 1900”
as if what’s new and now and wow
will be remembered even half that long?
Poetry is how culture is transmitted.

It’s not just a mindless TV program designed
to inundate the captive audience
with strings of images.

It’s a story, too. And sometimes a lesson.

And it’s the way poets talk.

About what’s important to them.

And if that happens to also be meaningful to just one other person,
let’s hope that person hears or reads it —
because the other poets also in the room
don’t mean anything without that, either.

28 DEC 2004

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